Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Fresh Treatments on the Age-old Battle of the Sexes

Nancy Sundstrom - April 10th, 2003
The good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright laughable about the business of life as it applies to relationships and family all get a fresh perspective in two new books from writers who obviously know the terrain well.
“Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About“ by Mil Millington is the debut novel that is an outgrowth of his Web site of the same name, and “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons“ by Lorna Landvik is the latest from the popular author of bestsellers like “Patty Jane’s House of Curl “ and “Welcome to the Great Mysterious.“
After a reading diet as of late that has consisted of serial killers, epic journeys across early America, and techniques for surviving biochemical, nuclear, and terrorist emergencies, both of these felt as welcome as the spring air that we’re opening up our windows to welcome. They’re each funny and affectionate, with many moments from the stuff of daily life that ring true against the backdrop of some textured subplots, and highly recommended.

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington

Already optioned for the movies, Millington’s story revolves around English-born and bred Pel and his live-in German girlfriend, the unflappable Ursula. Mostly, their life is uneventful, dealing with two young sons and calamities like losing one’s car keys, and, of course, finding new things to argue about.
In the opening paragraphs of the first chapter, he sets up the loving, but combative relationship Pel has with Ursula:

“I’m now late. Ten minutes ago I was early. I was wandering about in a too-early limbo, in fact; scratching out a succession of ludicrously trivial and unsatisfying things to do, struggling against the finger-drumming effort of burning away sections of the too-earliness. The children, quick to sense I was briefly doomed to wander the earth without reason or rest, had attached themselves, one to each of my legs. I clumped around the house like a man in magnetic boots while they laughed themselves breathless and shot at each other with wagging fingers and spit-gargling mouth noises from the cover of opposite knees. Now, however, I’m in a fury of lateness. The responsibility for this rests wholly with the car keys and thereby with their immediate superior - my girlfriend, Ursula.
“Where - where the hell - are the car keys?“ I shout down the stairs. Again. Reason has long since fled. I’ve looked in places where I know there is no possible chance of the car keys lurking. Then I’ve rechecked all those places again. Just in case, you know, I suffered transitory hysterical blindness the first time I looked... I do a semi-controlled fall down the stairs to the kitchen, where Ursula is making herself a cup of coffee in a protective bubble of her own, non-late, serene indifference.
“Well?“ I’m so clenched I have to shake the word from my head.
“Well what?“
“What do you mean “Well what?“ I’ve just asked you twice.“
“I didn’t hear you, Pel. I had the radio on.“ Ursula nods towards the pocket-sized transistor radio on the shelf. Which is off.“

Pel and Ursula’s less-than-idyllic life gets a radical makeover when Pel’s boss mysteriously disappears, and slacker Pel (“for me, half-heartedness is a full-quarter too hearted“) becomes embroiled in a wild chain of events involving stolen money, missing colleagues, and members of the Chinese mafiosi. Whatever warfare Pel and Ursula engage in on a daily basis is hardly training for they mysteries he uncovers through one bumbling escapade after another, all of which comes to a head with a local university building that is going to be built on a historic burial site and has deadly nerve gas in its foundation.
Most of Pel’s narration is extremely sharp and humorous, and while this isn’t a venue for earth-shattering revelations about how men and women jockey for position and power with each other, it is genuinely entertaining at every turn.

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Landvik had major sleepers with both “Patty Jane’s House of Curl“ and “Welcome to the Great Mysterious,“ and in her latest, she wisely returns to the eccentric landscape of small-town Minnesota life, specifically Freesia Court, where a group of friends have formed a book club they call the AWEB - Angry Wives Eating Bon Bons.
The club becomes a lifestyle, if not a lifeline commitment to each other, and the five women involved each have a story of their own to tell. Newcomer Faith is a lonely housewife and mother with a terrible secret. Audrey is the big, sassy resident sex queen. Merit is a shy doctor’s wife who suffers terrible abuse at his hands. Kari is Mother Earth incarnate - wise, warm, and wordly. Slip is an activist, a spitfire who loves to tackle a challenge, even ones that are greater than her tiny frame might allow.
In the first chapter, “The Members,“ Landvik sets the stage for the three decades of marriages, child raising, neighborhood parties, bad husbands and good friends that will follow by introducing us to Faith and her husband, Wade:

“Fuller Brush salesman had the unfortunate task of trying to sell his wares to the women of Freesia Court during the fifth day of a March cold snap.
“They were like caged animals,“ he complained later to his district manager. “I felt like any minute they were going to turn on me.“
“Brushes?“ Faith Owens had said when he offered up his bright smile and sales pitch on her icy front doorstep. “I‘m sorry, but I‘ve got a little more than brushes to worry about right now. Like wondering if spring is ever going to get here. Because I truly believed it might really be coming when boom -- here it is, twenty below zero with a wind-chill factor that would bring Nanook of the North to his knees.“
“Thank you for your time,“ said the salesman, picking up his case. “You have a pleasant day, now.“
“And what exactly is a wind-chill factor anyway?“
“Faith,“ called her husband, Wade, from the living room. “Faith, don‘t be rude, honey.“
“Well what is it?“ she asked, slamming the door with her hip. “What exactly is a wind-chill factor?“
“This is Minnesota,“ said Wade, ignoring her question because he wasn‘t quite sure of the answer. “What do you expect?“
“Oh, I don‘t know -- maybe a little damn relief?“
“Might I remind you,“ said Wade, “how you cried with delight seeing your first snowfall?“
“I cried with delight the first time I had sex with you, but that doesn‘t mean I want it nonstop.“
“You‘re telling me,“ said Wade with a wistful sigh.“
“Ha, ha, ha,“ said Faith, surveying her neat and trim husband as he brushed his crew cut with his palm, a gesture he always made after what he thought was a joke.“

Landvik’s story spans the ‘40s through the ‘80s, and throughout, the saving grace of friendship is there for her five engaging characters. No matter what hand is dealt them, they play their cards, and in some ways that might surprise the reader. This is the sort of tale that could be far more predictable than it is in its plot conventions, and the material works particularly well because the author isn’t content to make it all safe, neat, and homespun. Landvik’s women learn from the surprises and setbacks they encounter, and the reader can, as well.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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